Greensboro, North Carolina’s city council voted 6-2 yesterday (May 9) to release 2014 body camera footage that shows ex-police officer Timothy "T.J." Bloch shooting and killing Chieu Di Thi Vo, a Vietnamese woman with limited English proficiency and an intellectual disability.
According to Greensboro News & Record, the body approved a law that gives the council and the city manager the authority to release the video "to maintain public confidence in the police department."
Bloch shot Vo—whose family says she had bipolar disorder—after responding to a 911 call about a fight. By Bloch’s account, Vo was holding a knife and yelling, and then she lunged at him. Family attorney Tin Nguyen disputed that claim after viewing the video, telling the News & Record that "we saw she had a knife, but she wasn’t lunging." After telling her to drop the knife, Bloch shot at Vo five times. Four of the bullets hit her. The State Bureau of Investigation and Guilford County District Attorney’s Office cleared Bloch of wrongdoing, but he resigned in December 2015.
Members of Vo’s family, who saw the video last week, criticized what they saw as discrepancies between statements supporting Bloch’s actions and what they saw in the video. Per a statement:
After viewing the video with our own eyes, we strongly believe that what we saw and heard simply did not match with the [Greensboro Police Department’s] initial assessment of what happened—we did not see Chieu Di lunging at Officer Bloch, we did not hear Chieu Di yell anything in Vietnamese at former Officer Bloch, and Chieu Di was not physically threatening her mother.
Bloch spoke to city council ahead of its vote, saying that the body camera footage does not show everything. "The attorney for the Vo family stated … that Ms. Vo wasn’t running straight towards me," he said. "And the reason that is, is because there’s a neighbor standing directly behind me. The video doesn’t show that."